Monday, December 12, 2005

In the Sandbox...

From Dictatorship to Democracy, Soldiers Strive to Improve Iraqi Lives
BAYJI, Iraq (30 November 2005) – The upcoming mid-December elections in Iraq will be a world-altering event. Iraq will have a democratically elected government.

The “Rakkasans,” of Company C, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team have been working tirelessly to encourage Iraqis to vote. Troops drive through villages with a loudspeaker vehicle playing Arabic messages, telling villagers when the elections begin.

Capt. Chris Judge, Commander of Company C, walks among the civilians and talks to them about voting. It is a common site to see the commander, interpreter in tow, speaking with groups of people along the streets. “The most important thing we can deliver to the Iraqis, as a result of Operation Iraqi Freedom, is that they have a functioning, representative government,” said Judge.

A self-sustaining government isn’t all that Iraq needs, so Soldiers also meet with local Iraqi police to discuss their training and control of the area. “In order for us to leave Iraq and give it any sort of stability, it’s going to be crucial that they [Iraqis] have a police force that the people believe in and one that has authority,” said Judge. “Sheiks are a legitimate source of authority for the Iraqis, so it is important that we have a good relationship with them,” said Judge.

In addition to encouraging the sheik to vote, Judge also discusses curfew changes and additional security measures being taken during the elections week. The curfew is changing from 10 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“We try to make it so that the only people out at night are the bad guys,” said Judge. “It makes it easier for us to target them.” Judge and Sheik Adnon discussed different avenues to improve Iraqi people’s lives. Currently there is only one gas station in the immediate area.

“I am willing to give you guys anything you need – any help,” said Adnon during the meeting. Judge and Adnon set up a meeting for later in the week, including the city council. At the meeting, Judge can speak with all the village sheiks about the elections and the importance of their people voting. “Sheiks are very pragmatic, reality-based people,” said Judge. “They understand that we are going to be here for a while and that it benefits the Iraqi people to work with us.”

Over the next couple of weeks Soldiers will continue to travel through villages encouraging the people to vote.

“When people have free will to do what they want, and they have representatives that enact what they want, countries take a different path,” said Judge.
-PFC Cassandra Groce 133rd MPAD (DVIDS -Centcom)

...girls at Ft. Bragg...
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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